Decorated military veteran and best-selling author Oliver North tells Newsmax that many questions remain unanswered about the Benghazi fiasco even after Hillary Clinton’s testimony Wednesday morning.
He also assails the “neutering” of American foreign policy under President Barack Obama and asserts that the administration is not facing up to the threats posed by radical Islamists.
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North served in the U.S. Marines for 22 years and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He also served on the staff of the National Security Council during the Ronald Reagan administration.
He now hosts “War Stories with Oliver North” on the Fox News Channel and is the founder of the Freedom Alliance Foundation. His latest book is “Heroes Proved.”
Secretary of State Clinton appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday to answer questions about the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
After her testimony, North observes in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV: “We still do not know why the ambassador was in Benghazi and not at his post in Tripoli. We don’t know why he was traveling with such a short, scant security detail. We don’t know why the State Department ignored the requests for improving the security situation at the consulate in the days leading up to 9/11.
“So it strikes me we still don’t know what was leading up to it, what happened during it, and obviously from what just occurred in Algeria very little has been done to put U.S. military response units in place that can respond to attacks on U.S. citizens.”
The administration’s initial attempts to portray the Benghazi attack as a response to an anti-Islamic video rather than a terrorist attack is “part of their narrative, leading up to the election, that al-Qaida has been ‘decimated,’” North says.
“They’re ‘on the run.’ These are the words used by the Commander in Chief during his campaign for re-election. Those are the same narratives that are being used consistently as we move forward into the future.
“The fact is al-Qaida’s bigger today than it was on [Sept. 11, 2001], and the threats posed by it, not just in places like Afghanistan, the threats posed throughout the Middle East and perhaps even in Latin America [are greater as well]. We now know at that least Hezbollah and perhaps other cells of radical Islam are operating in this hemisphere.
“I think what we’re seeing is literally the neutering of American foreign policy. It begins with people who are not competent to carry it out.
“When you see the spread of radical Islam throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, from the west coast all the way to the east coast in Somalia, we have a bigger problem today than we had on 9/11 – greater threats to American citizens, businesses, facilities, diplomats, and our military people. Obviously this administration is not facing up to the reality of the threats being posed by radical Islamists.”
Asked if the United States needs to put boots on the ground in Mali, North responds: “No, I don’t think you want to put American boots on the ground in places where you don’t really need them. The French — this sounds strange coming from me — but the French seem to have stepped up to their responsibilities in one of their former colonies.
“Algeria was once one of their colonies and they don’t want anything to do with the French. They didn’t want Americans helping them resolve the situation at the gas plant that left at least two Americans dead and perhaps as many as seven.
“People have asked why didn’t the Americans send in the U.S. Marines or special operators. You can’t do that without some kind of clearance from the host nation country because, in cases like the attack at the gas plant in Algeria, you’d have to be able to get in and get out from somewhere and we don’t have facilities anywhere in the neighborhood where you could do so.
“I find that what’s happening is literally the foreign policy of the United States, the national security policy of protecting Americans, has fallen flat with this administration and it’s likely to get worse before it gets better.”
North was also asked if, following Tuesday’s re-election of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an attack on Iran is imminent.
“I really don’t know but I can almost tell you that, ultimately, someone is going to have to act to make sure that the Iranians do not have a nuclear weapon that they could use against Israel or against us.”
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process, he adds, “has been inflated by our State Department and certainly by this White House as the panacea for the problem of radical Islam.
“We all have to remember, going back to 2009, the Arab Spring was supposed to bring forth a new opportunity of education and tranquility and opportunity for people in the Arab world. What it really has been is an opportunity for radical Islamists to take charge in countries where there was a lot more common sense going on before the Arab Spring than there is today.”
President Obama has nominated John Kerry for Secretary of State and Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, picks North has criticized in the past.
He tells Newsmax: “There’s no doubt neither of those men are friends of Israel which, by the way, is our only real friend in that part of the world.
“A lot is being said these days about their connections back to the Vietnam War. These are people who look at the Vietnam War as an ineffective event or, at worst, Americans performing or behaving at their worst. I look at the Vietnam War entirely differently. The Vietnam War was not lost on the battlefield of Vietnam. It was lost in the quarters of power in Washington.
“So when the war ends badly for Americans and everybody else out there on the 30th of April, 1975, it’s not because of the failure of American arms on the battlefield. It’s because people in power in Washington cut off our ally that we had pledged to help defend.
“And I look at these two guys coming in with a perspective that says, yes, it was a bad thing to do to begin with and we’re going to make sure it doesn’t happen again, as a further example of the Obama administration’s commitment to withdraw from leadership in a world that desperately needs it.”
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